PGA tournaments start with player fields that are frequently larger than the total number of players who receive money earnings. The cut determines which players will earn prize money in a tournament as well as which players advance to the next round.
The cut usually occurs after the second round of the tournament. However, in some instances, there is a second cut that is used to narrow the player field. This cut determines which players will earn a payout based on their performance. Read on to learn more about how the cut is determined on the PGA Tour.
The Opening Round Cut
Golfers that qualify for a spot in a PGA tournament are allowed to play in the opening rounds known as the “work week rounds.” In the case of most 72-hole tournaments, the opening rounds consist of 18 holes on Thursday and 18 holes on Friday.
After these first 36 holes, the golfers are then ranked by score headed into the weekend rounds. This opening round cut narrows the field to the 70 golfers with the lowest scores plus ties, meaning that anyone who’s tied for 70th place will advance unless the number of players in the tie merits further tie-breaking. Those golfers who are outside the top 70 plus ties do not advance to the final two rounds of play.
Standard Cut Line
On the PGA Tour, the standard cut line after the opening first two rounds is the 70th place golfer. Players that tie or score better than 70 are considered to have made the cut and are eligible to compete in the next rounds. However, if the number of players that are tied exceeds 78, the tie merits an extra cut.
In 2008, the PGA Tour implemented the rule known as “Rule 78.” Before this rule was put in place, the top 70 golfers and ties, regardless of the number of players, made the cut after 36 holes.
Now that Rule 78 is in effect, if the opening round cut results in more than 78 golfers advancing, there is a third-round cut (which is much smaller than the opening round cut), where again, only the top 70 advance. However, the players that get eliminated during this cut still do get paid. Their earnings are equivalent to last place money earnings. The players that are left will compete in the final round for a chance to win the tournament.
After the 78 Rule was put in place, many golfers were unhappy with the new rule. One month after the rule went into effect, the PGA Tour made a change. When more than 78 players were tied among the top 70, instead of having a 36-hole cut, the Tour implemented a 54-hole cut.
Although this cut doesn’t decide which golfers will receive money earnings, it does determine which players will advance to play the next round – usually the final round.